Learning Today, Transforming Tomorrow

Eight years ago Gannon’s Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences pushed new frontiers of learning for the University by opening a Pro Bono Physical Therapy (PT) Clinic to provide students with an on-campus clinical environment. With leveraged capabilities, the College recently added the Little Knights Pro Bono Occupational Therapy (OT) Clinic to this structure as well.

But students aren’t the only ones benefiting from these Clinics. The Clinics serve to meet the needs of community members who may have exhausted their insurance benefits or who may not have health benefits and cannot receive needed treatment. Others are left without treatment for weeks as their names remain stationary on a waiting list.

PT students welcome community members into the clinics during an event on April 26

PT students welcome community members during an event on April 26.

Both Clinics operate under student executive boards and faculty advisors. For students working in the Clinics, the experience delivers opportunities to learn clinical management, marketing strategy, documentation and functions of supporting patient health as faculty prepare them to be quality professionals in the field. Students work directly with their clients and oversee all aspects of the evaluation and rehabilitation processes under the supervision of licensed practitioners.

“It is always rewarding to serve members of our community and provide them with opportunities for laughter, growth and independence in their lives.”

“The Pro Bono Clinic has been a really great experience,” said physical therapy student Jacob Van Houten. “You get a lot more exposure to patients, which is really good practice leading into clinical because you see patients of different populations and get a chance to [hone] your practical skills.”

The Pro Bono Clinics sit within an 800-square-foot space in Gannon’s Human Performance Laboratory and boasts a variety of equipment, ranging from treatment tables, exercise machines and biophysical agents to crayons, putty and shaving cream.

Recently, the OT and PT Pro Bono Clinics celebrated a $29,000 grant from the Palumbo Foundation and a $21,000 Community Promise Grant from the Hamot Health Foundation, respectively, to be used for the purchase of additional equipment to expand the Clinics’ operations.

Students at the Pro Bono clinic

Watch a video to learn more about Gannon's Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Pro Bono Clinics.

Further support for the Clinics has come from a number of donors who support initiatives to drive public health, including our alumni and students.

“It is always rewarding to serve members of our community and provide them with opportunities for laughter, growth and independence in their lives,” said David LeVan, ’97, ’02M, associate professor of the occupational therapy program who gives his time and resources to the Clinic. “It's also important as an educator to form these unique learning/mentoring relationships with the students and to let them see that we are invested in them as future clinicians.”

Amy Brzuz, ‘97, assistant professor of the occupational therapy program also felt drawn to donate her time and resources.

“There is a huge need in our community to provide OT services to kiddos who do not currently have access to services. Also, as an assistant professor in Gannon’s OT program, I saw this as an opportunity to assist in providing our students with hands-on learning opportunities,” Brzuz said.

A professor engages students in hands-on learning within the PT clinic.

Instructor of physical therapy Jonathan Ulrich, Ph.D. engages students in hands-on learning within the PT Clinic.

Faculty members such as Julia Hawkins, assistant professor of the occupational therapy program and lead faculty advisor of the OT Clinic, envision this continued support driving opportunities to expand resources and services to provide more interprofessional pro bono clinical services to the community.

Progress toward achieving this ultimate goal would require time and additional support from benefactors who share in this vision. But for now, Morosky College faculty are pursuing one solid conviction: by supporting the educational experiences of our students today, Gannon is preparing them to transform the communities of tomorrow.

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